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Chicago Marathon Training | Week 14

9 Sep

Week 14 of my Chicago Marathon Training has come and gone. It was a relaxing week for me since I had a one week break between my MBA courses. This meant that I was finally able to do some laundry, pick up the mess that follows me everywhere I go around the house and catch up with my husband and lady friends.

Here’s how my training went:

Tuesday Monday / Track Nice Leisurely Run

Some running friends were meeting at 7 AM on Labor Day for a 7-mile run. I knew that most of my other running friends were coming back from trips and rated their chances of bailing on track as very high. I decided to wake up early on my holiday so that I wouldn’t have to run track by myself the next day. I hate running track by myself.

I am definitely a vampire running. Running in daylight was killer. I quickly began to curse our late 7 AM start time.

And I forgot my watch, so I ran clueless to time and mileage. That part was lovely!

Also, I made the right decision. No one ended up running track on Tuesday morning. Lonely runner crisis averted.

Thursday / 9 miles 7 miles

I was scheduled to run 9 miles, but since I ran 7 miles on Monday, I decided to take it easy with just 7 miles on Thursday morning. Since we were running hills on Saturday, we stuck to flat lands on our run.

  • Distance: 7 mi
  • Time: 1:27:25
  • Avg Pace: 12.29/mi

Saturday / Long Run (12 miles) (10 miles)

If the hills had eyes, they would have witnessed many runners on Saturday.

Our group drove out to Apopka for some “hill training.” I’ve tried to avoid hill training at all costs this training session because I think too many hills strain my IT band. However, one of our team members had to put water out in Apopka so we were guilted into supporting her. Otherwise she would have to run hills all by her lonesome. I agreed to run, but decided to cut my mileage by a couple of miles. In my eyes, 12 regular miles equals 10 hilly miles. 🙂

I arrived about 10 minutes early to our meeting spot. Apparently the further from home we run, the closer to on time I get. I quickly noticed I was the only one from our group there. I was deep in thoughts considering how I excited I would be to sleep in my car when some other group members arrived to join the run. Boo. No car sleeping.

A few minutes later the group was there and we set out for our run. Apopka seemed unusually dark and there was a fog rolling over the hills. We couldn’t see much on our first big loop.

However, on our second loop it was lighter out and the fog had lifted. Now I could clearly see the top of that hill I was running on! The top seemed so far away. I think I liked running in the darkness and fog better.

Before we knew it, 10 miles were done. We walked it back a mile for a nice cool down.

  • Distance: 10.10 mi
  • Time: 02:17:24
  • Avg Pace: 13:36/mi

Afterwards I met some friends for breakfast and then headed to Starbucks for my cheat treat: my first pumpkin spice latte of the season! I made it a little less horrible for me by ordering it with skim milk and just one pump of pumpkin spice syrup (anything more than that is just too sweet now). It was delicious.

I enjoyed a lazy weekend with my husband. Today I start class again and I’m sure life will be a whirlwind until I leave for Chicago in just over a month from now. I’m starting to get excited about the marathon!


You know you’re a runner when …

25 Jun

Your bedroom smells like Icy Hot. And your living room smells like Icy Hot. And … well everything you own seems to smell like Icy Hot.



Black Coffee

28 Apr

black_coffeeI am a lover of coffee. I love its aroma while it brews and the way it warms my soul on a cold day. I love drinking it in the morning, while catching up with friends in the afternoon or paired with a decadent dessert after dinner. As they would say when I lived in NYC, I take my coffee “light and sweet.” My usual order at any coffee shop varies between a latte, cappuccino, frappucino or a good ol’ traditional cafe con leche. Milk has always been the perfect compliment to my coffee and I never imagined drinking my coffee any other way. You can see why my loved ones were surprised to hear a month ago that I was now drinking my coffee black.

I’ve always looked as those who drank their coffee black like they had a horn growing out of their forehead. On the rare occasion that I would accidentally drink out of my husband’s coffee cup, I would be overwhelmed with pity for his lactose-intolerant self.  I would think to myself, “What a shame he doesn’t get to enjoy his coffee creamy and delicious like I get to.”

Then I signed up to run this year’s Chicago Marathon and in order to repeat the pain of my previous years, something had to change.

As some of you may remember, I ran my first two marathons last year only four months apart and running them only went from bad to worse. I think there were several factors mistakes that contributed to how horrible I felt for my second marathon:

  1. Not enough rest time between my first marathon and training for the next one. 
  2. IT band issues caused from lack of stretching and strength training.
  3. Waited too long to replace my running shoes.
  4. Transitioned from minimal shoes to even more minimal shoes mid-training.

After spending my summer rehabbing my poor battered IT band with a 30-day yoga challenge, I slowly began to run again. I addressed all of my rookie mistakes: I stretched extensively when I got home from my runs; I went back to Nike Frees; and I waited months before I ran my next long distance race. Before I knew it, I had forgotten about any IT band problems of my past. That is, until I ran the Orlando Half Marathon. There it was… around mile 12 … that creeping tightness right by my knee.

It was around that time that I started seriously considering that perhaps I needed to lose weight. I couldn’t help but think what a relief it would be to my body if I could only carry ten pounds less for every single mile. So after I signed up for what would be my third marathon, I set my first goal to lose just 10 pounds before June to and maintain that loss throughout my marathon training. I weighed 157 pounds.

I wanted to make this a lifestyle change, and not just a diet so I didn’t want to do anything extreme that I couldn’t maintain. Plus, I didn’t need to shed pounds quickly, just over time.

Here are the changes I made:

  1. Avoid major sources of gluten in my food: I say major because I’m not cutting out the small things like soy sauce, salad dressing or the occasional beer. This change was not difficult for me because we already did this in our home for dinner. I just needed to also apply these changes to my breakfast, lunch and snack options. Lunch is the hardest, especially if I don’t have a packed lunch. 
  2. Avoid dairy: My exception to this is yogurt, which contains probiotics, and I don’t have more than one serving per day. It was hard to say goodbye to my cheese, but it was hardest banning milk from my coffee.
  3. Avoid artificial sweeteners and added sugars: My sweet tooth had started to get out of  control in the office. It seemed like almost every day someone was bringing in some sort of dessert that I felt I had to try. Also, my dad has been diagnosed with diabetes and my body takes after him so this change is overdue.
  4. Minimize alcohol intake: This one is pretty easy. When I’m getting up at 4:30 AM three times a week to run, I naturally don’t tend to drink. And when I’m in training mode I drink even less.
  5. Have a cheat day: I’ve given myself a “cheat day” every week, but I found that I don’t tend to cheat the whole day. I just end up treating myself with a tasty treat or have a dinner that I wouldn’t allow myself to eat the rest of the week (like pizza).
  6. Strength train twice a week: This is the second hardest for me. My workload has been busy at work so I have been tired and sleeping in a lot.

As of last week’s weigh-in at Publix (three weeks in), I had lost three pounds. I couldn’t be happier with losing a pound per week. This is slow, maintainable progress for me.

As for the coffee, I had in the past year already switched to sweetening my coffee with agave at home. But I figured if I was going to go black with my coffee, I may as well go all the way. And there was no point in replacing milk with anything else (coconut milk, almond milk, homemade cashew creamer, etc.) because it all tasted gross to me in my coffee. I figured I may as well go with the all black coffee option and get used to it as fast a possible. I do sweeten my iced coffee with a half packet of honey for an occasional post-run treat after runs.

And after a month of drinking my coffee black, I’m no longer making this face with every single sip:


Source: Reaction GIFS

Yeah, I know. That’s pretty much the creepiest GIF you’ve ever seen. However, it pretty much accurately sums up how I felt about drinking black coffee a month ago.

How do you take your coffee?


17 Apr

If you’re like me, Monday started off like any other day. I woke up, wished the weekend wasn’t over already, got ready for work, made a breakfast smoothie and headed off to work. I intended to try and catch some of the Boston Marathon footage during lunch, but a busy Monday made me completely forget about it.

I had just returned to my desk in the afternoon when a co-worker asked if I knew anyone running the Boston Marathon. I had a quick moment where I kicked myself for forgetting to watch. Then she said the most ludicrous thing.

“Have you heard anything about the bombing at the finish line? My husband just sent me a picture he saw on Twitter.”

I jumped up and went to her computer and looked at the picture. Surely this was not real. Instead of looking at a finish line of a marathon, full of supporters cheering and people running their final steps of a long race, I was seeing what looked like a war zone.

“This has to be a hoax. Is it anywhere on the news?”

Another co-worker had been listening to us and the three of us jumped on our computers to search. I googled for news on the Boston Marathon … Nothing. I hit up the new websites like … Nothing. And just as I was logging on to Twitter to search #bostonmarathon, my co-workers were doing the same.

Immediately my Twitter feed was full of images that I wish I could erase from my memory forever. To keep from crying I told myself it wasn’t real. Surely these were extras from an epic war movie.

Shortly after, the news sites started to report on the bombings at the Boston Marathon finish line. (Side note: This isn’t the first time that I’ve gotten breaking news from social media, rather than the actual news. Oh how times have changed.) I had so much work to do, but I couldn’t tear myself away from the coverage.

Like many runners, this attack felt so personal. Not only did I run my first two marathons last year, but I have stood at the end of countless marathons to cheer on my friends for doing the unimaginable for many of us: running 26.2 miles.

But here I sat, trying to process a very different kind of unimaginable. And I couldn’t help but place myself there as I easily could’ve been one of those standing at the finish line, waiting for a loved one to cross that finish line.

It’s been two days and I’m still sorting and working through all of my emotions of anger towards the attacker(s), sympathy for the victims and their families, pride for the acts of heroism I keep seeing all over the news and even fear for I too am running a major city race this year: the Chicago Marathon. And as a believer in God, I am praying. I am praying for the strength in all of us … to let the good outweigh the bad … and most importantly for healing.

A blogger I follow tweeted a link to a piece titled “The People Who Watch Marathons” by Erin Gloria Ryan yesterday. It’s beautifully written and I encourage you to read it in full. But my favorite part was the last paragraph:

One of the many puzzling aspects of yesterday’s attacks was the question of what, exactly, the perpetrators thought they’d accomplish by targeting what basically amounts to a celebration of human tenacity. If anything, the tragedy in Boston will further solidify the bond between runner and spectator. And when the Chicago marathon happens this October, I’ll show up to run harder, and they’ll show up to cheer louder. If anyone thought this attack would discourage the runners or the watchers, they’ve clearly never been to a marathon.

Yesterday morning I put on my running shoes and ran with my friend Beth early in the morning. It was a somber run, full of reflection. We pushed ourselves, I think because we could. We will be running the Chicago Marathon together in October. And we are going to show up and run harder.

When it suddenly poured rain on my run and I had my iPhone on me …

24 Mar


Source: Reaction GIFs

It was around mile seven during Saturday morning’s 10-miler that the sky opened up and started to dump buckets of rain on us. I’m not talking a light drizzle here … I’m talking full-on torrential downpour.

As soon as I felt the first raindrop, I pulled my running belt up under my shirt and started to run hunched over the area where my iPhone was stored in a hopeful attempt to  save it from an untimely water death.

Before long our running group was soaked from head to toe, but I held on to hope that my iFitness iPhone add-on pocket would somehow keep my phone lifeline dry.

When my sunblock started to roll into my eyeballs, I lost the ability to see. And there was so much water on my face I became unable to distinguish between rain water and snot. I was running wet and blind and unable to breathe through my nose, with no end in sight.

Almost three miles later the rain began to let up as we approached the end of our 10-mile run. Perfect. Timing.


Before I got into my car, I wringed the water out of my hair and towel dried the best I could. Then I reached down to check on the poor state of my phone. To my surprise, my iPhone was still dry in it’s little pouch. It would remain the only thing dry the entire drive home.

I feel these are lessons I’ve learned before, but apparently I need to be reminded:

  • Always check the weather before a run.
  • If there’s any sign of rain, don’t run with my iPhone.
  • If there’s any sign of rain, skip the sunblock on my face and wear a hat instead.

On the bright side since we were already soaking wet we took full advantage of jumping in rain puddles. Adults really should jump in more rain puddles.

Oh, and apparently I run faster partially unable to see and soaking wet. Woohoo!

The Screams Around the ‘Hood

21 Mar

Saturday morning started much like many of my other Saturday mornings: I hit snooze at least 3 times, dragged myself out of bed, brushed my teeth, washed my face, used the restroom, ran around my house looking for different articles of running clothing, and was out the door with a protein ball in hand by 4:30 AM. I arrived at our meet-up spot with five minutes to spare so I felt pretty good about myself and may have done a little patting on one’s own back.

My old Marathonfest training group was recently dismantled, so we had to merge with a larger training group. The new group started our long run with a new (to me) 3-mile loop that involved some running on a nearby trail. A dark, poorly lit trail.

By the time our large group hit the trail, we had dispersed into smaller groups. My friend Rachelle and I were running in between two larger groups, so I was thankful she had a small light clipped to her visor. At least we could make out shapes, which is always good when running in the dark.

We were deep in our conversation (which was likely about food or travel since she blogs about both here) when suddenly we heard something making a huge ruckus in the bushes to our left. This was the kind of ruckus that happens just before something, or someone, jumps out of the bushes and attacks you.

At first I was focused on trying to see what was about to lunge at me, but Rachelle’s tiny light only showed a bush shaking violently. Then I think I realized that whether it was a person or an animal, either was bad and the magnitude of the situation suddenly hit me. And then came this:

When something jumps out of the bushes during your run on a dark trail ...

When something jumps out of the bushes during your run on a dark trail …

Source: Reaction GIFs

I screamed. At the top of my lungs. And so did Rachelle. In the wee, dark hours of the morning. And then we took off sprinting, certain that at any moment we would be jumped by either a crazed serial killer or a rabid bear. And it would likely be whichever one of us was running slower.

By this time the group in front of us had stopped and we quickly caught up to them. They assured us that there was neither a crazed knife-wielding man nor a rabid beast chasing us, so we stopped to catch our breathe. We ran the rest of the mile at a faster pace than usual … being scared shitless really puts a pep in your step.

As we exited the trail we saw a patrol car drive by and we couldn’t help but wonder if it was responding to concerned calls regarding women screaming on the trail. Their reaction time was good and I made a mental note to scream as loud as I could if ever I was to be attached by serial killer or bear. And be the faster runner. 😉

Have you ever been scared on a run?


How I felt when I woke up for this morning’s 5-miler.

28 Feb


Source: RealityTVGIFs

Somehow I managed to run mile repeats. The cup of coffee I had afterwards was like a magical potion that awoke me from my sleep running.

I must be CRAZY. And I can’t wait to have a deep dish pizza.

19 Feb

I have undoubtedly lost my mind. However, it seems like the passing of nine months has allowed for me to forget the hell that was Marathon #1 and Marathon #2 and my stance of “only running half marathons for the rest of my life.”

Come this October, I will hopefully be celebrating the completion of Marathon #3 with a deep dish pizza, a chicago-style hotdog, or all of the above. If I’m really lucky, I’ll be sitting next to Oprah.

If you haven’t guessed it, I’ll be running the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, October 13th.


Look out hot, steamy, muggy Florida summer training runs… here I come!


So Confused

7 Feb

So Confused

Today’s run was twenty degrees warmer than my run two days ago. My body is so confused. Also, I think I need to go to the beach this weekend.

Just Sayin’

6 Feb

When my hubby pointed out that Northerners might hate me for complaining about running in 46-degree weather yesterday  morning, I had just one response: “Haters gonna hate.”

I may have done this little jive to go with it too. 🙂